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Golfbet Insider: Valspar Championship

8 Min Read

Betting DFS

    Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf

    Well, gang, I made it home after my eighth trip for THE PLAYERS Championship, so I’m back in the familiar saddle for the foreseeable future.

    A strange phenomenon happens when I travel to attend. Even though I’m on site, it’s more challenging for me to engage with you in real time because it’s a deviation from the norm. Last week was a thrill for everyone, but especially for yours truly who lacks for Vitamin D despite my digs in the Valley of the Sun. Connecting with Will Gray and Ben Everill for social content on Golfbet’s Twitter was a treat, and I capitalized on the trip by spending a considerable portion of the two-day visit on the course in some capacity. Who wouldn’t!

    I suppose I may have just blown your mind with the fact that I work from home and I don’t travel regularly. If that’s the case, that’s kind of on purpose. It eliminates a variable of doubt in the equation to generate clearer analysis, insight and opinion for the reasons that you read, play fantasy and bet.

    Unfortunately, the most impactful variable of doubt looms at the Valspar Championship – wind.

    The opener of Segment 3 of PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf resets all of us to three starts per golfer, but roster construction may tilt into the late-early draw. This is due to the timing of the strongest breezes and gusts on Thursday morning and essentially all day on Friday. I do this for a living and I’ve conveyed how often I’ve been burned by the unpredictability of the wind even in short-range forecasts.

    Unlike last week when the second round was suspended for inclement weather, thus thwarting the original plan also to lean into the late-early draw (instead, the early-late got the better of it), a delay at Copperhead likely wouldn’t threaten until Saturday. It still can be a crapshoot when factoring only the wind, but we’ll stand a better chance of avoiding bad luck with untimely stoppages.

    One of the most common questions I received once it was evident that Min Woo Lee was going to land inside the top 10 at THE PLAYERS – he finished T6 – was if he was going to accept a spot in the Valspar via the top 10. He has not, so he is not in the field at Copperhead.

    First, to explain the provision, top-10 exemptions apply to the next open – Valspar is an open – and all professionals are eligible, including non-members like Lee. The provision does not apply to top 10s among non-members in the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, the Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship.

    Somewhat similar to Special Temporary Membership [STM], top-10 exemptions aren’t always accepted by international non-members inside or on the bubble of the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking. In the latest edition, Lee is 45th. They don’t “need” to because they’re going to access enough PGA TOUR events on the OWGR alone, including majors. Short of winning, their ultimate goal is finish inside the top 125 of the FedExCup with their equivalent of points. Lee currently would slot 127th.

    Another vital component of Lee’s decision not to play Valspar is that he’s eligible for the Match Play after which the top 50 in the OWGR will be exempt into the Masters. Because his divisor in the OWGR is 48 – the maximum is 52 – he’d be putting himself in jeopardy with a missed cut or poor result. By not playing Valspar, his divisor cannot rise, so he has more leverage to retain his position with a week off. It’s possible to be credited with zero OWGR points at the Match Play, but it’d be a surprise if he’d pass on that tournament as well.

    Speaking of STM, Akshay Bhatia has accepted it in advance of the Valspar. This means that he’s allowed unlimited starts, unlimited sponsor exemptions and a spot in Category 37 of the Priority Ranking. When it reorders at the conclusion of the Valero Texas Open on April 2, he’ll cycle into Category 34. He will not be able to rise again this season without a victory.

    For those of you registered to receive notifications for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, you received an alert and/or an email last week regarding the launch of the Dell Technologies Bracket Challenge at It’s a stand-alone contest in which you fill out a bracket for a prize package. There is no connection to PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf that uses the concurrently contested Corales Puntacana Championship, so starts are not deducted with picks to win in the Match Play. More on this next week.


    Davis Riley (+188 = Miss the Cut) … Everybody wants a piece of him where he came so close in his debut last year. This is what makes him the classic contrarian. Sure, he made noise two weeks ago with a T8 at Bay Hill, but he’s missed four of his last six cuts and hasn’t sustained the kind of form that generated anticipation for his sophomore season. It also cannot be ignored that he put himself into position last year with a third-round 62. With the wind on the horizon, that ain’t happenin’ again this week.

    Odds were sourced on Wednesday, March 15, at 4:20 a.m. ET. For live odds, visit BetMGM.


    NOTE: These are notables who are not included in my Power Rankings or Sleepers. Connect with me on Twitter if you want analysis, insight and opinion for anyone else.

    Akshay Bhatia (+125 = Top 40) … Because he’s the shiny new toy, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do, but I’ll connect dots between his success in the wind in The Bahamas on the Korn Ferry Tour, both last year and early this year, as well as in Puerto Rico two weeks ago. That’s the angle physically. The angle mentally is that he’s freed up having achieved and accepted STM. (See more about that in the intro above.) There’s always work to be done, but given his trajectory, he’s arguably in the best position that he’ll be in his career until he’s on the other side of the bell curve. Time will tell if he follows more of the Will Gordon stutter step or the Will Zalatoris speed slot, to name a couple of contemporaries who scaled into STM (in different seasons) before diverging on different arcs, but Bhatia has time to pile on without feeling any pressure to return to the KFT to finish inside its top 30 for a 2024 PGA TOUR card, if necessary. (He’s currently 17th in KFT points.)

    Pierceson Coody (+300 = Top 20) … Already so poised but the 23-year-old has been groomed for this. As a non-member in a designated event, he hung up a T14 at Bay Hill two weeks ago. Many, many more top 20s are in his near future, so you might as well dive into another right now. It rubs against my philosophy as a conservative gamer, but some guys are just worth the nod. For the record, he needs a two-way T4 to achieve STM, but by no means should he eventually be on the precipice with only one or two starts remaining. However, what happens this week will impact his short-range scheduling since the Korn Ferry Tour resumes its season next week.

    Webb Simpson (+120 = Top 40) … It’s still wild that he’s drifted into plus value for a top 40 and in the context of the field sizing up Copperhead this week. No measure of statistical support will persuade you either way on the guy; rather, treat this as a reminder that he’s competing on a track that rewards his default strength from tee to green. Still, it’s almost amusing at how he ranked second in proximity to the hole at Bay Hill and led the field in putting and converting GIR into par breakers, but still settled for a T24. Is that a flash or is he actually close? We shouldn’t be torn, and he missed the cut at THE PLAYERS by six, so do the responsible thing and consider only a fraction of a unit.

    Maverick McNealy (+170 = Miss the Cut) … In his first action in a month due to an injury in his upper body, he finished T60 at THE PLAYERS. Notable about the performance is that he averaged 273.3 yards in distance of all drives. That ranked him third-shortest among the 75 who made the cut. He’s usually among the top 50 on the PGA TOUR in the statistic with an average of about 300 yards, and he averaged 281.4 yards at last year’s PLAYERS to rank 20th, so it’s clear that he’s not 100 percent. In fact, last week’s clip is a career low in a tournament contested on a singular track that uses ShotLink. He’s a first-timer at Copperhead and the wind will be blowin’. Although he leads the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting, he’ll need to have more trust in the long game than usual.


    NOTE: Not everything needs a setup. For a variety of reasons, these lines are too enticing to ignore.

    HOLE-IN-ONE (-145 = No) … Despite five par 3s at Copperhead, there was only one ace in the last six editions of the tournament. Strong winds project to make it more difficult this week.

    Tyler Duncan (+100 = Top 40)

    Brice Garnett (+300 = Top 40)

    Zach Johnson (+150 = Top 40)

    K.H. Lee (+188 = Top Asian)

    J..T. Poston (+150 = Miss the Cut)

    Brandon Wu (-125 = Top 40)

    Dylan Wu (+130 = Top 40)




    Taylor Montgomery … ‘Tis the time of the year when rookies begin to be challenged by tougher courses and deeper fields. Even the best aren’t immune. Since a solo fifth at PGA West, he’s 3-for-5 and without a top 30. Yet, he’s qualified for next week’s Match Play at which he’d need a good performance to climb in the Official World Golf Ranking to qualify for the Masters. That’s the last checkpoint and he’s currently 56th.

    Aaron Rai … The Englishman would have been a popular investment across all formats at Copperhead because of his exceptional tee-to-green fit, but he hasn’t taken a break in six weeks.

    Callum Tarren … This is his first week off in the last nine, and he missed the last five cuts, so needs a blow. He’s also earned the opportunity to take it because he’s 64th in the FedExCup thanks primarily to a T2 at Sea Island last fall.

    Anders Albertson … It’s always an eyebrow-raiser when a guy near the bottom of the Korn Ferry Tour graduate reshuffle steps out of any stop midseason, but this is the third time he’s done so in 2022-23 (Bermuda, RSM). He’s battled a sore back – what golfer hasn’t? – but he had a week off after a season-best T21 in Puerto Rico. Whatever the case, even the deepest salary leaguers are advised to shop elsewhere.

    RECAP – THE PLAYERS Championship


    Power Ranking Golfer Result

    1 Rory McIlroy MC

    2 Scottie Scheffler Win

    3 Max Homa T6

    4 Jon Rahm WD

    5 Jason Day T19

    6 Tyrrell Hatton 2nd

    7 Keegan Bradley MC

    8 Viktor Hovland T3

    9 Justin Thomas T60

    10 Shane Lowry T35

    11 Tony Finau T19

    12 Patrick Cantlay T19

    13 Sungjae Im T6

    14 Matt Fitzpatrick MC

    15 Keith Mitchell T35

    16 Rickie Fowler T13

    17 Will Zalatoris 73rd

    18 Corey Conners MC

    19 Cameron Young T51

    20 Nick Taylor MC

    * - For the recommendations below, an asterisk represents a bet that won.


    Golfer (recommended bet, if applicable) Result

    Joel Dahmen (+500 = Top 20) T60

    *Adam Hadwin (+350 = Top 20) T13

    Ben Martin T54

    Robby Shelton MC

    Brandon Wu T19


    Golfer (recommended bet) Result

    *Wild Card: Xander Schauffele (+120 = Schauffele, Viktor Hovland and Tony Finau all to Make the Cut) T19/T3/T19

    Also Starring: Jordan Spieth (+170 = Miss the Cut) T19

    *Also Starring: Collin Morikawa (+130 = Morikawa, Will Zalatoris and Jason Day all to Make the Cut) T13/73rd/T19

    *Also Starring: Kurt Kitayama (+115 = Miss the Cut) MC

    Tap-In: PARLAY – Shane Lowry, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler (+225 = all to Make the Cut) T35/MC/T13

    Tap-In: Thomas Detry (+175 = Top 40) MC

    *Tap-In: Ryan Fox (+160 = Top 40) T27

    Tap-In: Dylan Frittelli (+220 = Top South African) MC

    Tap-In: Nate Lashley (+250 = Top 40) T60

    *Tap-In: David Lingmerth (+350 = Top 40) T6

    Tap-In: Jhonattan Vegas (+120 = Top South American) MC

    The PGA TOUR is committed to protecting our fans. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, the National Council on Problem Gambling operates a confidential toll-free hotline that you can reach by phone or text at 1-800-522-4700.

    Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.